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4/25/03

France, Iran stress UN role in post-Saddam Iraq

Iran and France on Thursday underscored the role of the United Nations in post-Saddam Iraq, with President Mohammad Khatami warning of many problems if Iraq's fate is not immediately left to its people to decide, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"I believe what happened in Iraq is not over yet and if the fate of this country immediately is not left to the Iraqi people (to decide), America, the region and the world will face many problems," he told French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin here.

"The United Nations must have a fundamental role in disarming Iraq and establishing a legitimate government there as well as reconstructing Iraq," de Villepin, who arrived here on a one-day visit early Thursday, said.

"The international community must pave the ground so that the Iraqis take their fate into their own hands as soon as possible," he added.

Khatami said "weakening the role of the United Nations, which has been founded to establish peace, will lead to international despotism, bullying and expansion of extremism in the world".

The Iranian president underlined Iraq's territorial integrity and non-interference of outsiders in that country which is seeing the yoke of Saddam Hussein's totalitarian rule removed.

"We want a system which is based on 'one Iraqi, one vote' (principle) and stress on territorial integrity, independence and the rule of the Iraqi people belonging to every cast as well as religious and ethnic group without the interference of foreign forces," Khatami said.

The Iranian president criticized US approach of promoting democracy in Iraq, saying, "One cannot issue a general decree about democracy. Instead the idea of pluralism and diversity must be accepted and world nations must be allowed to decide according to their own interests and norms."

"If democracy is built without engaging intellectual, cultural and religious bases, as we unfortunately see today, the radical thinking which (chief terror suspect Osama) bin Laden is representing now, will be strengthened," he said.

"Fighting extremism and terrorism as well as weapons of mass destruction and paving the way for the establishment of democracy and freedom in the world must be based on international consensus and realized by respecting justice," Khatami added.

The president hailed France for leading the world's anti-war front and hoped that "France, given its position in the world, will make more efforts to promote peace, global coexistence and justice in the international scene".

He also praised Paris' stance on guaranteeing just peace and security in the occupied Palestinian lands. "An enduring peace in the Middle East will not be achieved without restoring the legitimate rights of all Palestinians," Khatami said.

"A genuine and just peace in the Middle East will benefit all countries, including Iran, (in their quest) to achieve progress and (push ahead) development plans," he added.

IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM

Khatami reiterated Iran's commitment to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as the Islamic Republic's assertions that its plans for full nuclear fuel cycle were intended for civilian purposes.

"Our country, thanks to the efforts of its children, has acquired the knowledge for peaceful use of atomic energy but it is asking why countries possessing this know-how do not assist Iran to acquire it according to the non-proliferation treaty," he said.

Khatami said "Iran has proposed that the Middle East become free of weapons of mass destruction".

De Villepin hailed Iran's intention for peaceful use of nuclear energy and stressed the need to assure the international public opinion on that as well as respect international regulations on nuclear arms, to which Iran is a party.

Washington has whipped up its anti-Iran rhetoric after President Mohammad Khatami made public Tehran's plans for a complete nuclear fuel cycle.

Iran says it wants the programs as part of the country's bid to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity to cope with the rising energy demand in the 65-million-nation in the next 20 years, while its gas and oil reserves are becoming overstretched.

EU TIES

Khatami described relations between Tehran and Paris as well as the European Union as "good" and urged further deepening of relations between the Islamic Republic and the EU in various fields in "this sensitive juncture".

"Tehran and Paris can play better role in the international scene according to mutual respect and bilateral dialogue," de Villepin said.

The French foreign minister said there was need for more international coordination in order to return peace and security to the Middle East and resolve the long-standing crises in the region.

... Payvand News - 4/25/03 ... --



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